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Private Parking Fines
Appealing a Parking Ticket

Good Excuses for Parking Ticket Appeals

Scott Nelson MoneyNerd Janine Marsh MoneyNerd
Scott Nelson MoneyNerd

Scott Nelson

Debt Expert

Scott Nelson is a renowned debt expert who supports people in debt with debt management and debt solution resources.

Learn more about Scott
Janine Marsh MoneyNerd

Janine Marsh

Financial Expert

Janine is a financial expert who supports individuals with debt management, cost-saving resources, and navigating parking tickets.

Learn more about Janine
· Mar 11th, 2024
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good excuse parking ticket appeals

Have you received a private parking fine? Are you confused about what to do next? You’ve found the right guide. Every month, more than 130,000 people visit our site seeking advice on fines and parking tickets, which comes as no surprise, as the DVLA report that over 11 million parking tickets were issued last year, which is up by 29% year on year!1

This guide will give you simple and clear advice on:

  •  The two types of parking tickets.
  •  If you need to pay the fine.
  •  How you can appeal a ticket.
  •  The best reasons to appeal.
  •  What happens if your appeal is rejected.

We know that a private parking fine can be frustrating. But don’t worry; you’re not alone. We have loads of useful tips and examples to help you understand your options for appealing a parking ticket.

Most Ticket Appeals Succeed

In some circumstances, you might have a legitimate reason not to pay your fine.

It’s a bit sneaky, but the last time I needed legal advice, I paid £5 for a trial to chat with an online solicitor called JustAnswer.

Not only did I save £50 on solicitor feeds, I also won my case and didn’t have to pay my £271 fine.

Chat below to get started with JustAnswer

*According to Martin Lewis, 56% of people who try to appeal their ticket are successful and get the charge overturned, so it’s well worth a try.

Two types of parking tickets

Not all parking tickets issued in the UK are the same. Some parking fines are issued by local authorities for parking contraventions in council areas. And there are other parking tickets issued by private landowners. 

The two types of parking tickets are called Penalty Charge Notices and Parking Charge Notices. Do you know which is which?

What is a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN)?

A Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) is a fine from a local authority or transport group. Local councils usually issue these fines to motorists for parking contraventions on council land, or for traffic violations.

The most common traffic contravention that could get you a PCN in the UK is driving on a bus lane.

Transport groups can issue Penalty Charge Notices when a motorist does not pay a road toll by a set deadline, such as the London Congestion Charge. 

» TAKE ACTION NOW: Get legal support from JustAnswer

What is a private parking ticket?

A private parking ticket, also known as a Parking Charge Notice, is a parking fine served by a private company rather than a council.

They are not real fines and more like invoices from the business for breach of contract when parking on their land, likely because you never paid

Although they are not initially enforceable, the parking company can take you to a small claims court to force you to pay. Your credit report can only be damaged if you don’t pay after losing in court. This is because the company didn’t provide you with any credit. 

As both types of parking tickets have the initials PCN, it can be a little confusing. We will use PCN to refer to council parking tickets only in the rest of this post. 

Can you appeal a PCN?

You can only appeal a Penalty Charge Notice if you submit the appeal within 28 days. This formal challenge against parking fine is called representation.

You also have 28 days to pay the PCN before the fine gets increased.

Bear in mind that you cannot make an appeal after 28 days for both scenarios. 

That said, if you’re appealing within 14 days and your appeal is rejected, you should still have the chance to pay at the reduced rate.

Your appeal will involve a written statement explaining why you think the parking ticket should be cancelled and no fine is owed. You can improve the strength of your appeal with evidence (e.g. photos, video, etc) to back up your claim.

Once you appeal, you don’t have to do anything more until you receive a decision from the council. To learn more about the appeal process, please take a look at the following table.

Process: Steps you should take:
When you receive the ticket… You should gather as much evidence as you can to support your appeal claim and prove that the ticket was unfairly issued.
If you were given the ticket in person/attached to your car… You must make an informal appeal (sent to the local authority/council that issued the PCN) within 14 days. This should be a letter with the evidence proving why the ticket was incorrectly given.
If it was posted to you… You will be given 21 days to submit an informal appeal (from the day you received the letter). Your informal appeal should be a letter with the evidence proving why the ticket was incorrectly given.
If the informal appeal is rejected… You will receive a Notice to Owner and will have 28 days to respond to this with a formal appeal. You can conduct the formal appeal online or via paper form. The Traffic Penalty Tribunal can send you one of these forms.
If the formal appeal is rejected… You will receive a Notice of Rejection. From here, you are free to challenge the council’s verdict at an independent tribunal.
If the independent tribunal disagrees with your appeal… You should pay the ticket within 28 days of the tribunal rejecting your appeal. If you don’t, the fine will be increased by 50%.
If you don’t have the money to pay the fine, you should contact Citizens Advice or another debt charity.

How do you write a letter to challenge a PCN?

You can submit your PCN appeal online using the council’s website or their online appeal portal. Alternatively, you can send your appeal as a letter. The letter should include all your relevant personal information, including your PCN number. 

It should then explain clearly your excuses for challenging the parking ticket.

The good news is we have made writing a PCN appeals letter easier for you. Simply download our free appeal letter template to make a good impression. 

Successful Appeal Case Study


Initial Fine £100
Additional Fees £171
Total Fine £271

The Appeal Process

Scott used JustAnswer, online legal service to enhance his appeal. The trial of this cost him just £5.

Total Fine £271
Cost of legal advice £5

JustAnswer helped Scott craft the best appeal possible and he was able to win his case.

Scott’s fine was cancelled and he only paid £5 for the legal help.

Get started

*According to Martin Lewis, 56% of people who try to appeal their ticket are successful and get the charge overturned, so it’s well worth a try. In partnership with Just Answer.

What happens if your PCN appeal is rejected?

If the council rejects your PCN appeal, you have the right to escalate the appeal to an independent tribunal if desired.

An independent panel will decide whether the parking ticket should stand based on your arguments and evidence. Their decision is final. 

When a local authority denies the PCN challenge, they must provide instructions on how to escalate the appeal. 

Source: MSE Forum.

You may be able to appeal to an independent tribunal (e.g London Tribunals if your PCN was issued in London) if your initial representation was rejected.

Can you appeal a private parking ticket?

You can challenge Parking Charge Notices as well. Companies that issue private parking tickets, such as MET Parking Services, will provide information on how to appeal the fine.

The exact method of appealing could be somewhat different between companies. But it’s likely to involve a statement or letter explaining your arguments against the fine. 

How do I write a letter to appeal a parking ticket?

Your letter to appeal a parking fine should include a clear explanation, starting with the basic information about the supposed contravention. It should then explain one or more reasons why the parking ticket shouldn’t have been served. 

Try to write with facts rather than emotion, even if you’re angry or upset to have received the fine. 

» TAKE ACTION NOW: Get legal support from JustAnswer

The best reasons to appeal a parking ticket

The best excuses to get out of a parking ticket are:

  1. You were in fact parked correctly
  2. There was no way to pay due to broken machines
  3. The parking ticket was delayed
  4. Admin errors
  5. Unclear or unmarked road signs
  6. Typos when entering registration numbers
  7. You were unable to get back to your vehicle due to extenuating circusmtances
  8. You were within the “grace period”

Here is further information on each of these excuses:

#1: Delay in issuing the fine

You could be excused from paying a fine if the council or private company took too long to send the fine to you (if it wasn’t left on your vehicle). 

In general, they have 28 days to send it, but this can be extended. We have a dedicated guide explaining this process in detail.

#2: Administration error

If you were issued a parking fine for a vehicle you don’t drive, then there could have been an administration error at the DVLA. Sometimes the council have to ask the DVLA for your address to post the PCN, which can result in errors. 

#3: You weren’t guilty of a parking contravention

The best argument of all is that you weren’t guilty of a parking contravention. An inexperienced traffic warden may incorrectly have issued you a fine.  But this may also be the hardest to prove. 

#4: Unclear road signs

You can usually get your parking fine wiped if the council’s road signs and instructions are damaged or unclear. This can happen due to weather damage or if trees and bushes are not maintained near signs. 

#5: Typo when paying for your parking

Some ticket machines make you enter your vehicle registration number when you pay. However, if you make an honest error when typing your registration into the machine, any subsequent parking fine cannot stand. 

#6: You couldn’t return to your vehicle

You might be able to have the fine cancelled if you overstayed in a parking zone or car park because you were unable to get back to the vehicle in time. It depends on the reason why you couldn’t return. 

For example, a medical emergency will probably be accepted with circumstantial evidence. Saying your watch stopped or your smartphone battery died isn’t likely to be accepted. 

#7: Out of order ticket machine

An out-of-order ticket machine is a good excuse to get you out of a parking fine. If there was no other way for you to pay then it could be an acceptable excuse. However, if there were other easy ways to pay then it may not be accepted. 

#8: You were within the “grace period”

Most parking enforcement officers will give motorists a grace period of five to ten minutes before issuing a fine. If you overstayed by a couple of minutes but still received a ticket, you may be able to use this as an excuse. 

If you want to save time and write an effective appeal, you can download MoneyNerd’s free parking ticket appeal letter template. This free resource gives you a fantastic starting point to launch your appeal.

Download The Parking Ticket Appeal Letter Template

Download the parking Appeal Template today

Can I appeal a parking ticket if my car breaks down?

Citizens Advice states that your car breaking down could stop you from being liable to pay a council or private parking ticket. You’ll likely need evidence that your car broke down, such as an invoice from a qualified mechanic. 

Getting the support of a Solicitor can take a huge weight off your mind.

Get started

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Will I always need evidence for my appeal?

You might need evidence to back up your statement. However, you can still win your appeal and not have any evidence. This may be because the local authority or company doesn’t require evidence. 

For example, if you argued that the ticket machine was broken, the council or company may have the means to check if it was working or not when you were in the car park. 

How long can a company chase you for a parking ticket?

A private company can chase you for up to six years before the ticket cannot be legally enforced. They cannot take you to a small claims court after six years as the statute of limitations will have expired. Therefore the fine can never become legally enforceable. 

Parking ticket appeal excuses – can I lie?

You shouldn’t lie to get out of a parking ticket, and you probably wouldn’t get away with it. If you’re fighting back against a PCN, it may be a better idea to pay the fine within 14 days

Motorists who pay within the first two weeks will receive 50% off their fine, which is a considerable saving. 

Hire a Parking Solicitor for less than a coffee.

If you’re thinking about appealing your parking ticket then getting some professional advice is a good idea.

Getting the support of a Solicitor can make your appeal much more likely to win.

For a £5 trial, Solicitors from JustAnswer can look at your case and help you create an airtight appeal.

Try it below

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In partnership with Just Answer.


  1. RAC Foundation – Parking Tickets Statistics
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The authors
Scott Nelson MoneyNerd
Scott Nelson is a renowned debt expert who supports people in debt with debt management and debt solution resources.
Janine Marsh MoneyNerd
Appeals Expert
Janine is a financial expert who supports individuals with debt management, cost-saving resources, and navigating parking tickets.